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This is my very last post about the Philippines – at least for now. My next trip to this gorgeous country is already in the works, and I can’t wait to visit all the places I didn’t make it to the first time around.Whenever people ask me about my favorite places in South East Asia, I can’t stop gushing over the picture-perfect beaches I visited, the lush green islands with their scenic rice fields and softly swaying palm trees, a stark contrast to the urban sprawl of Manila which is rapidly turning into a modern, advanced city; rivaling Singapore and Bangkok with the number of skyscrapers and shopping malls that continue to emerge in the ever growing capital. When I sat in one of Manila’s third-wave coffee shops, located in one of the shiny fancy malls, after returning from Palawan, I couldn’t believe that a day earlier, I had shared the road with ox carts and that I didn’t even have cell phone reception in El Nido – now I was surrounded by people who were all glued to their smartphones again.The many faces of the Philippines were fascinating, the marine life breathtaking, the people welcoming and kind. But I’ll let the photos speak for themselves – follow my journey through the Philippines in pictures:It all started when I flew into Manila, and the capital couldn’t have been more surprising – I expected to hate it because everyone who had visited the city seemed to thoroughly dislike it. Read more about my time in Manila here: Living it up in Manila
From Manila, I flew to Boracay, because I was craving some beach time. I had been wanting to visit Boracay, famous for its ridiculously pretty White Beach, for years, and this travel dream finally came true.I spent hours just staring out at the water, listening to the sound of the softly clashing waves. For the first time in months, I was able to relax 100%.As if a stunning 4-kilometer long beach with soft, powdery sand and crystal clear water weren’t enough, Boracay also boasts some of the most memorable sunsets I’ve seen anywhere in the world. Every single night! Read more about my time in Boracay here: Debauchery in Paradise: Letting loose in BoracayMy next stop was Bohol, a short flight from Boracay, which I added to my itinerary to meet these little guys:Tarsiers! The other attraction Bohol is famous for are the oddly shaped Chocolate Hills. I should have stayed longer to check out some of the beaches, but I was told there are nicer beaches in Siquijor, a nearby island reachable by ferry.You can read more about my time in Bohol here: Tarsiers and chocolate hills in Bohol
Siquijor was the one place in the Philippines that exceeded my expectations – by far!It might have been the witchcraft (which Siquijor is famous for) that charmed me, or simply the incredible natural beauty of the island. Read more about this magical place here: Searching for magic in mystical SiquijorFrom Siquijor, I took a ferry to Dumaguete, where I based myself to do what would be a highlight of my trip: Swimming with sea turtles in Apo Island!
For the stunning underwater life in all its glory, have a look at my Apo Island gallery on Flickr.
The next island on my itinerary was sadly not just a quick ferry ride away – instead, it took me nearly 16 hours to get from Dumaguete to El Nido, and the trip there included buses, a ferry, a minivan, a plane and a taxi.
My destination was worth the strenuous travel day though: Palawan, the crown jewel of the Philippines.I could go on and on about the incredibly picturesque beaches and lagoons of the Bacuit Archipelago off the coast of El Nido, but I let the pictures speak for themselves.
El Nido was indeed the grand finale to a fabulous journey, and you can read more about it (and marvel at more photos!) in these two posts:
- The grand finale of my Philippines trip: El Nido (Part I)
- The grand finale of my Philippines trip: El Nido (Part II)
From Palawan I flew back to Manila for a few days of city life after weeks of island and beach hopping, and got to know fancy speakeasy bars, indulged in scrumptious vegetarian food (a rare find on most of the islands I went to) and visited the historic district of Manila, Intramuros, before boarding my plane to Bangkok.Considering that the Philippines consist of more than 7,000 islands, I feel like I only got a small teaser of the country, but I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the country.If you’re considering visiting the Philippines, check out my budget breakdown: How much does it cost to travel in the Philippines?, which also has some travel planning and money saving tips.